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COAST TO EST.1972
The Savings Add Up
$1.00 $3.00 $7.50 $8.00
Lunch Dinner Pizza
What is Trip Plus Discounts? Trip Plus Discounts is an exclusive benefit for Coast to Coast members, with members only discounts at over 135,000 popular restaurants and retailers. You’ll find big savings on dining, groceries, sports tickets, theme park tickets, clothing, and much, much more. And with our handy My Deals Mobile ® app, Trip Plus Discounts will make it easy to save the cost of your membership, just by logging in and finding deals near you.
$15.50 $8.50 $4.50 $9.00
$155.00 $34.00 $18.00 $135.00
To download the My Deals Mobile app: 1. Sign in at CoastResorts.com and click on “Trip Plus Discounts” under the “Benefits” tab. 2. At top right of discounts page, click on “Mobile” and make a note of the “Your Mobile Password” number from the bottom of the “Go Mobile” page. 3. Download the free “My Deals” mobile app from your app store. (iPhone or Android)
4. When prompted, input your mobile password number and complete the registration form. 5. Start saving with My Deals Mobile! Any problems? Contact a live, personal assistant at 888-433-7896**
Members can save 10%, 25% even 50% or more* at places like:
*Benefits subject to change without notice. Participating locations only. Check CoastResorts.com for the latest discounts and redemption methods. **Live customer service assistance available weekdays from 6 am to 7 pm Mountain Time.
TRAVEL 9 All Season Seashore
GOOD SAM AND CAMPING WORLD CHAIRMAN AND CEO Marcus Lemonis MarcusVIP@goodsamfamily.com COAST TO COAST PRESIDENT Bruce Hoster CCRPresident@coastresorts.com
North Carolina’s Outer Banks sparkle all year long. PHOTOS AND STORY BY ROSS AND PAULA LOEHR
MEMBER SERVICES 64 Inverness Drive E. Englewood, Colorado 80112 800-368-5721 email@example.com COAST TO COAST WEBSITE CoastResorts.com FACEBOOK Facebook.com/CoastResorts EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Dee Whited ART DIRECTOR Nicole Wilson
12 Riding the Rockies in Colorful Colorado Autumn in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains is a spectacle not to be missed. PHOTOS AND STORY BY EMILY AND MARK FAGAN
DEPARTMENTS 4 From the President 5 Member Matters 6 Resort Updates 6 You’re the Experts 18 Kennedy Space Center 20 RV Review
RESORTS 7 No Name City Luxury Cabins & RV Sturgis, South Dakota 8 TLC Wolf River Resort Pass Christian, Mississippi 22 Delta Shores Resort & Marina Isleton, California
Volume 34, Number 4. Coast to Coast (ISSN 1093-3581) is published quarterly for $14 per year as part of annual membership fees, by Coast to Coast Resorts, 64 Inverness Drive E., Englewood, Colorado 80112. Periodical postage paid at Englewood, Colorado, and additional mailing offices. Registration Number 558028. Publications Mail Agreement Number 40012332. Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to P.O. Box 875, Station A, Windsor, Ontario N92 6P2. U.S. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Coast to Coast Resorts, P.O. Box 7028, Englewood, CO 80155-7028. Coast to Coast Resorts assumes no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts or artwork. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced by any method without prior written consent of the publisher. Copyright © 2015 by Coast to Coast Resorts. PRINTED IN THE USA. COVER PHOTO Million Dollar Highway, Emily and Mark Fagan CTC42306 - 0815
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FROM THE PRESIDENT
News Flash! Search by map added to CoastResorts.com
The BIG news this issue is that we have added search by maps to our member website, CoastResorts.com. To try this great new feature for yourself, go to our website and select “Find a Resort,” then on the USA map just click on the state you want to view. The search result will display as a map of that state, with all the Coast Resorts and Coast Good Neighbor Parks in that state displayed as pins on the map. Coast Resorts are displayed as red pins, and Coast Good Neighbor Parks are displayed as navy blue pins. When you click on a pin, a pop-up box will display the name, address, and facility type (Classic, Deluxe, Premier Resort or Good Neighbor Park). You can move around the map, or scroll in and out, by using the handy Google map tools. Below the map will be a listing of all the facilities in that
PUTTING MEMBERS FIRST
state, and that list can be sorted by just clicking on any of the headers (Park Name, City, or Type). Many of you have asked for this feature to be added to our website, so I know you’ll be excited to have this available to you now as part of our reservation process. Check it out the next time you’re on our website, and drop us a line with your feedback at CCRPresident@coastresorts.com. “Like” Coast Resorts on Facebook Staying with the online theme, Coast to Coast relaunched our Facebook page in late July and will be making regular posts with travel news, member updates, and resort activities. If you’re a Facebook user, please make it a point to visit our Facebook page at Facebook.com/CoastResorts. Be sure to “Like” us so that you receive updates from Coast to your personal Facebook page and can keep up-to-date on the latest news and happenings from Coast and our affiliates. Tennessee Good Neighbor Park Honored In other news, congratulations are due to one of our newest Good Neighbor Parks. Smoky Mountain Premier RV Resort in Cosby, Tennessee, has been named the Tennessee Campground of the Year for 2015-2016 by the Tennessee Campground Association. Congratulations to owners Kelly Williamson and Jessica Brooks for their outstanding job developing this special property. The owners took great care to preserve large old-growth shade trees throughout the resort, which borders the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Yet even with all those shade trees, the resort is big-rig friendly with an average RV site size of 2,500 square
feet. In addition to the national park, just down the road are the resort towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, so there’s plenty to see and do for visitors. Check out the profile of Smoky Mountain Premier RV Resort on page 22 of the Summer issue of Coast magazine, and make plans to visit next time you’re in the area. In closing, our staff is hard at work on the 2016 Coast Resort Directory, which we think will be our best directory issue to date. Look for the new directory to be delivered to you during the first half of January 2016. Until then, best wishes for some great Fall travel using your Coast membership, and Happy Holidays!
MARCUS LEMONIS Chairman and CEO
BRUCE HOSTER President Coast to Coast Resorts firstname.lastname@example.org
Camping World & Good Sam email@example.com
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MEMBER matters MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR COAST TO COAST MEMBERSHIP The Early (Snow)bird Gets the Campsite As a reminder, we’re approaching the season when snowbirds travel south to the warmer climates of Florida, Texas, and the desert Southwest. With this annual migration comes a significant increase in demand for campsites allocated to Coast to Coast by our affiliated resorts and Good Neighbor Parks. If you’re heading south for the winter, be sure to make your reservations through our Tripsetter reservation system as early as possible. Our Sunbelt affiliates book up quickly this time of year, and thus the earlier you can make your reservation, the better your chance of getting your preferred locations and dates. You can make your Tripsetter reservations through our website, www.CoastResorts.com, or call the Coast Member Service Center at 800-368-5721. We do not charge any extra fee for booking reservations through our call center. This year has been somewhat of a record for Coast to Coast in terms of emergency closures among our affiliates. We have had affiliates who closed this spring because of flooding, and some that closed in the summer because of wildfires. We even had one close due to tornado damage. When we are alerted by a resort or Good Neighbor Park that they are on emergency closure, we immediately note the emergency closure in our Tripsetter reservation system and alert our Coast Member Service agents. Next we check all future reservations on file that are likely to be affected by the emergency closure. Then we personally call every member with an impacted reservation and work with them to make alternate reservations within our system. This is just another service we provide to ensure that you can travel the Coast system with peace of mind. While member feedback on our new website (unveiled in the Coast Magazine Summer issue) has been universally positive, one comment we had from several members was that some of the benefits were more difficult to access on our new website than on the previous website. We took your comments to heart, and have already made changes to address your concerns. Coast Classic members now have quick links on their home page to “Coast Travel Services” Emergency Closures — We’ve Got You Covered Coast Website Update — You Spoke, We Listened
and “Coast Trip Plus-Discounts & Coupons” in the form of two of the four main feature boxes at the bottom of their home page. Coast Deluxe & Premier members have the same two feature boxes plus a third one for “Condo Vacation Getaways” through Hopaway Holiday. Let us know what you think of these changes, and also let us know any other changes you’d like to see. We do listen!
“Like” our New and Improved Coast Resorts Facebook Page We’re excited to announce that we launched a new and improved Coast Resorts Facebook page in July. This new Facebook page is another great way for us to create a community where you can interact online, whether you’re in the United States or Canada, while on your adventures or at home. As a follower or fan of the page, you can share your experiences and ideas with others. We invite all of our members to share your posts, comments, or post content regarding your Coast resort experiences on our page. It also provides Coast members the opportunity to communicate with us and stay connected to the latest news and updates from Coast to Coast Resorts. Some of the new features include the latest news on Coast resorts, member benefits information, featured Coast Resorts, entertaining RV camping stories, interesting vacation articles, fun travel facts, and more. Visit our page today to find out more and to become a fan. Be sure to “Like” our page at Facebook.com/CoastResorts to stay connected while you travel.
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area is one of the most highly developed entertainment and tourist destinations in the United States, yet careful, re- sponsible conservation and management has preserved the natural beauty and wonder of the region. The resort is locat- ed next door to a full service marina, practically surrounded by fishing guides and watercraft/water sports rentals. Direc- tions: From Branson: S on US 65 to Hwy 14 (approx. 15 min). W 4 mi on Hwy 14. Gated entrance on L. Amenities: game room, handicap access, hot showers, laundry, library, pic- nic area, rec hall, horseshoes, outdoor pool, nearby casino, nearby shopping, nearby tourist attractions, nearby boating, nearby fishing, nearby golf, nearby winter sports. Check-in: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Check-out: 11 a.m. Max RV Length: 50 feet. Amps: 50 amps. Additional charges: $2/night 50 amps. No late arrivals. No drive-ups SOUTH DAKOTA Heartland RV Park & Cabins, Hermosa YOU’RE THE EXPERTS INSIDE INFORMATION FROM COAST TO COAST MEMBERS I found a great way to seal cracks: 3M 5200 Sealant. I used it on my camper when I found the window washer container was cracked and leaking. I took it off, cleaned it, spread the sealer over the crack, and let it dry. You could also use this on a non-pressurized water tank crack. If you can reach the crack, even if you can’t clean it very well, smear the sealant on and it will hold very well. I always carry a tube for quick repairs. It’s even good for making strong mounts without GOOD NEIGHBOR PARK TERMINATIONS MONTANA Hook-U-Up RV Park, Libby
RESORT UPDATES ADDITIONS AND CHANGES TO THE 2015 DIRECTORY The 2015 Coast to Coast Resort Directory is packed with everything you need to navigate the network of Coast to Coast Resorts and Coast Good Neighbor Parks. To keep members up-to-date, each issue of the magazine includes any updates that have occurred since the last issue.
COAST TO COAST RESORTS COAST DELUXE UPDATES COLORADO
Blue Mesa Recreational Ranch, Gunnison, (page 113) Reservation phone: 970-642-4150; Fax: 970-642-4592 email: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: bluemesarvcamping.com OKLAHOMA Texas Red River RV 2, Thackerville (page 154) Formerly Red River Ranch RV Resort
COAST DELUXE TERMINATIONS IDAHO Lewis – Clark Resort, Kamiah (page 119)
making a hole. William Hodel Home Resort: Wally World Riverside Resort in Ohio
MISSISSIPPI Martin Lake Resort, Biloxi (page 135)
COAST CLASSIC TERMINATIONS MANITOBA Traveller’s R. V. Resort, Winnipeg (page 192)
GOOD NEIGHBOR PARKS GOOD NEIGHBOR ADDITIONS ARKANSAS
Cricket Creek RV Estates, 20069 Boat Dock Rd, Omaha, AR 72622. Resort phone: 417-294-5018; Reservation phone: 417-294-5018; Email: email@example.com; URL: cricketcreekrvestates.com. Latitude: 35.5 / Longitude: -93.2; Elevation: 1,000 feet. Located only 15 minutes south of downtown Branson, Missouri. Cricket Creek RV Estates is a beautiful, gated RV park nestled in the foothills of Arkan- sas—right on Table Rock Lake. The Table Rock Lake/Branson
SHARE YOUR RV KNOW-HOW You’re the experts on RV travel, and we’d like to hear from you. Please email your tips and accompanying photos or sketches to editor@CoastResorts.com. Make sure to include your name, the name of your Coast to Coast home resort and your mailing address. If your tip is selected for publication, you’ll receive $25.
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No Name City Luxury Cabins & RV A great place to relax in the Black Hills
RESORT TYPE Good Neighbor Park LOCATION Sturgis, South Dakota SEASON May 1st to October 1st WEBSITE nonamecity.com
Getting back to the Black Hills was just one reason that Tanya and RJ Ludwick bought No Name City Luxury Cabins & RV. According to Tanya, she and her husband had been in the campground business previously and when No Name City Luxury Cabins & RV came up for sale, they bought it and haven’t looked back. Since then, there have been a lot of improvements, including new RV sites, pavement, and gas fire pits. Since it’s in the name, the cabins may be the first thing you notice about the resort. There are 24 cabins with a variety of bedding configurations sleeping from two to eight people. The cabins have amenities including cable TV with DVD players, kitchenettes, and high speed Internet. There are some extra-large cabins with separate bedrooms, a Jacuzzi cabin, and handicap accessible cabins. They haven’t scrimped on the RV sites either. There are big-rig friendly sites offering both long pull-through sites
(up to 90 feet long) or shaded back-in sites—most with picnic tables. Take advantage of 30 and 50-amp electric and full service sites with lush grass spaces and a gravel pad.
Whether staying in a cabin or enjoying one of the RV sites, enjoy the heated in-ground 40-foot swimming pool and two hot tubs. There’s secure high-speed wireless Internet, cable TV, pool table, bar, pavilion/restaurant, two laundromats, playground, and private showers. If you’re planning a large group gathering or family reunion, you’re welcome at No Name City Luxury Cabins & RV. Call for special group rates.
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TLCWolf River Resort Where the water meets the land
RESORT TYPE Coast Premier LOCATION Pass Christian, Mississippi SEASON Year-Round WEBSITE tlcwolfriverresort.com
River, bay and ocean all combine to ensure the outdoor lover has a great time while staying at TLC Wolf River Resort. Even if you don’t want to get in the water, the option of having a waterfront RV site is irresistible. In addition to having a lovely water view, stately pines and majestic oaks dot the property assuring you of having a beautiful view at one of the 140 full hook-up sites. “What our guests notice most is the natural beauty of the park,” says Office Manager Nick Hartman, who is also the son of the owners, making it a family affair. “There are walking paths that go to the private beach on the Wolf River with the possibility of seeing a lot of wildlife.” Other amenities include swimming and wading pools, a boat launch, laundry, Wi-Fi, and a comfortable clubhouse with cable TV and showers. Don’t forget to pack your fishing gear because fishing is big in the region. Fish the Wolf River or the bayou that runs
through the park. Or choose to boat in Bay St. Louis or in the Gulf of Mexico, which are just minutes away. Take advantage of your own space on some of the 26 miles of
sugar-white sand beaches. Plan a trip on a charter fishing boat and end your evening at one of the 13 casinos located along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Enjoy live entertainment, food, and beverages all day long there. For the kids and the kids at heart, you’ll want to make time to visit Gulf Islands Water Park. It’s great fun for all ages. From fishing to golf, shopping to spas, and casino action to fun filled, family times, there is something for everyone along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. TLC Wolf River Resort is just minutes from it all.
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All Season Seashore North Carolina’s Outer Banks sparkle all year long by Paula Loehr
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Outer Banks Atlantic sunset.
The sign welcomes you to the seashore.
Cape Hatteras Light’s spiral staircase.
Walking the dunes at Jockey’s Ridge.
Colorful flowers at Elizabethan Gardens.
80 and 100 feet in height, depending on which way the wind blows. The dune formation is estimated to contain the equivalent of six million truckloads of sand. The giant sand piles stay put because of alternating airstreams that equalize each other by blowing sand back and forth. Prevailing winter wind gusts arrive from the northeast, and summer breezes blow in from the southwest, constantly rearranging the dune’s surface. From a sandy perch on the dune’s peak, lucky birdwatchers looking west spot blue herons, brown pelicans, or chickadees in flight, depending on the season. Meanwhile, local outfitters teach fledgling hang gliders how to soar like sea gulls off the tops of dunes. Park visitors are treated to panoramic views of Roanoke Sound, Atlantic seas, and the vacation-oriented town of Nags Head. From the top of the big golden dunes, it’s fun to imagine how local heroes Orville and Wilbur Wright were inspired to fly like birds over the blustery sand scape of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Hikers’ advisory: Allow an hour or so for a leisurely round- trip trek between the parking lot and the sandy crest of Jockey’s Ridge. Wear shoes to protect your feet from hot sand and spurs. Be sure to walk the park’s two self-guided nature trails to see prickly pear cactus and red cedar. You might catch glimpses of dune dwelling critters such as racerunner lizards and cottontail rabbits. FortRaleigh, The Lost Colony and ElizabethanGardens On Roanoke Island, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site memorializes the lives of 117 men, women, and children who sailed with Sir Walter Raleigh to establish the first English settlement in America. Mysteriously, all those early colonists disappeared laterwithout a trace. Their compelling story, “The Lost Colony” outdoor drama, is presented at the
Most RVers have favorite seasonal “star stops” that shine most brightly during a designated time of year. If you’re wishing for all-season travel magic that endures throughout summer, fall, winter, and spring, it’s difficult to surpass North Carolina’s Outer Banks—a 130-mile chain of wind- and-sea-swept barrier islands. Golden sand dunes studded with sea oats, big blue waves, and top-of-the-line saltwater fishing make North Carolina’s popular outer islands a winning locale during every season. Throngs of summer guests are wowed by every kind of outdoor activity and indoor entertainment imaginable. Autumn, winter and spring visitors reap the advantages of quieter, gentler, less crowded islands, and more reasonable prices. During every season, the Outer Banks may be reached easily by RV—via U.S. Highway 168 from the north or U.S. Highway 64 from the west or south. Listed below by location (driving north to south) are Outer Banks’ highlights you won’t want to miss. Wright Brothers NationalMemorial Head south through Duck and Kitty Hawk into Kill Devil Hills to see the imposing Wright Brothers National Memorial. While viewing the 60-foot-tall granite monument and the bronze replica of Orville and Wilbur Wright’s original powered flyer, it’s easy to picture how the brothers’ shared senses of wonder, determination, and ingenuity led to their ground-breaking powered airplane flight in December 1903. Jockey’s Ridge State Park At Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head, you can experience a unique 426-acre desert-like preserve. Slide into your walking shoes to clamber up (and down) the tallest natural sand dune formation in the eastern United States. The park’s largest sandy summit measures between
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FOR MORE INFORMATION outerbanks.org
Enjoy the view from the Frisco Pier at Hatteras Island.
Surf’s up at Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
Every evening is better when experienced around a campfire.
Laughing gulls fill the air with their calls.
If you’re lucky, you’ll see white-tailed deer.
open-air Waterside Theater. The celebrated show written by Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Green has run longer than any other such performance in the U.S. The depiction of Roanoke Island’s lost settlers—complete with original music, elaborate sets, and costumes—captivates audiences throughout each summer season (late May through late August). If you are planning to attend a Lost Colony performance, reserving tickets in advance is recommended. Also at the Fort Raleigh site, the Elizabethan Gardens serve as another colorful tribute to the first 16th century English colonists who dared to brave the perils of the NewWorld. If you like strolling on shady paths surrounded by magnolias, camellias, yellow daffodils, and pansies, the Elizabethan Gardens is an all-season botanic treasure for your must visit list. Antique statues of Queen Elizabeth I and Virginia Dare stand regally among rhododendrons, fragrant roses and gnarled oak trees. There are even special hideaways for hummingbirds and butterflies. CapeHatteras National Seashore An hour south of the gardens, the town of Buxton is the home of America’s first oceanside preserve—Cape Hatteras National Seashore. You can expect to see peeling waves, sun-kissed beaches, maritime forests, and starry nights at Hatteras. Piping plovers, sea turtles (in summer), white- tailed deer, and harbor seals (in winter) cohabit at the park. Fish are plentiful in the sound, off the beach and down under the deep blue sea—in the “Billfish Capital of the World.” Be sure to plan for other outdoor pastimes like surfing, paddling, sailing, windsurfing, hang-gliding, and hiking. There’s upbeat underwater news for scuba enthusiasts, too. Carolina’s coast is called “The Graveyard of the Atlantic” because of more than 2,000 ships lost at sea off the battered shores of Hatteras. Scuba divers stream to the area to explore shipwrecked remains on the ocean floor.
At the iconic Cape Hatteras Lighthouse (circa 1870), hikers can go vertical on a 268-step spiral staircase that twists all the way to the top. The reward for your walk up-up-up the stairs of the famed black and white sentinel is an awesome seabird’s perspective of the luminous shoreline and deep green forests of the Outer Banks. A two-story museum housed in the historic lightkeeper’s wood-framed quarters features photographic exhibits of shipwrecks on deadly Diamond Shoals and tall tales of Blackbeard, the most infamous local pirate. Catch a Ferry to Ocracoke To explore the quieter side of the Outer Banks, you can board a ferry that makes 40-minute runs from Hatteras to Ocracoke Island. The complimentary ferry operates on a first-come, first-served basis. When you debark at the peaceful village of Ocracoke, you can explore some of the Outer Banks’ most unspoiled beaches. Take time to observe a herd of shaggy wild ponies that live protected within Ocracoke National Seashore’s boundaries. Other nominally-priced ferry connections tie various Outer Banks islands with the mainland. Reservations are advised for these routes. Legally roadworthy RVs of any length or combination are permitted on all the ferries, provided adequate parking space is available. At the end of a long day of sun, surf, and sightseeing in this vacation paradise, nothing tops a delicious meal. The Outer Banks offers one of the greatest varieties of restaurants in the Carolinas. Whether you’re craving fresh-caught seafood, authentic Southern barbecue, sizzling steaks, or fresh- baked veggie pizza, you won’t be disappointed. Likewise, shopping enthusiasts visiting the Outer Banks can choose from a dizzying array of specialty stores, souvenir shops, and boutiques that match every style and budget. Anytime is a great time of year to visit NC’s Outer Banks!
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RIDING the ROCKIES in
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Story by EMILY FAGAN Photos by EMILY AND MARK FAGAN
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Alpine lake mirrors the fall colors in its depths.
The town of Ouray is intimate and charming.
Autumn in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains is a spectacle not to be missed. The vast mountainsides transform into vibrant shades of yellow and orange, and nature’s vivid display stretches as far as the eye can see across every valley. RV travel in these towering mountains can be difficult, but the challenge is a small price to pay for the extraordinary beauty when you get there. When we arrived at the ski resort town of Snowmass outside of Aspen with our 36-foot fifth-wheel, the first hints of fall were just beginning to show. Nearby Maroon Bells, in the Elk Mountains, are the “most photographed mountains” in Colorado, and they stand in regal majesty on the far side of Maroon Lake. As we ran down the dirt path to the water’s edge, our eyes grew wide at the truly breathtaking scene. Two steep mountains rose on either side of the lake, framing the more distant summits. On the far shore, a few trees had traded their summertime green for autumn yellow. Standing by the water, the crystal clear lake sparkled in the sun all the way from the toes of our hiking boots to the base of the soaring mountains on the horizon. Along the banks there was a hum of activity. Kids played at the water’s edge while anglers cast their lines and families enjoyed picnics.
We returned to Maroon Bells on another morning before sunrise to find the lake perfectly still. It silently reflected the image of the mountains in its depths without a single ripple. The pre-dawn hours are a magical time in Maroon Bells because the air is so crisp. The mountains are lovely in their early morning slumber. But it’s not a time of solitude by any means. Not only were ducks and beavers going about their early morning tasks in the lake, but dozens of photographers crowded the shoreline. Like a great host of paparrazzi, they were waiting for the arrival of the ultimate rock star—the sun. Maroon Bells is full of classic, picture postcard Rocky Mountain scenery, but 125 miles from there we discovered a totally different side of Colorado at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Here, the Gunnison River has carved an impossibly deep gorge through a craggy and forbidding black rock landscape. As high as the Rocky Mountains seem to go into the sky elsewhere in Colorado, the knifelike cliffs of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison seem to pierce the heart of the earth in this otherworldly place. Driving the wildly curving road alongside the Gunnison River, we climbed higher and higher above the canyon. At each overlook we stared down at ever more sheer drops to the ribbon of water below. All color had left the landscape, save the black and gray shades of the canyon walls, and the
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Maroon Bells is the most photographed area in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.
around us, it was hard to imagine this meek river had sculpted the rock walls with such force. Leaving this mysterious land behind, we traveled another 50 miles south to the charming mountain town of Ouray (pronounced “you-ray”) where we found colors and camaraderie as vivid and convivial as the Black Canyon of the Gunnison had been remote and stark. Surrounded on all sides by steep 13,000-foot mountain peaks, Ouray is a village of just 1,000 people who live 7,700 feet above sea level. The town was named for Ute Indian Chief Ouray, a great leader in the 1860s who became chief at a difficult time for his people. Interestingly, he was raised by a Mexican family and spoke four languages before he became the revered ruler of his mother’s tribal people. Nowadays, Ouray is a town that radiates historic charm and a welcoming spirit. Both sides of the main street are lined with beautifully maintained nineteenth-century buildings that date back to Ouray’s heyday as a mining town, and every view around town is set against a dramatic mountain backdrop. Wanting to get out into these mountains rather than just observe them from a distance, we did a short but steep hike to Cascade Falls. This uphill hike was a good workout, even though it was only a quarter of a mile to
weathered rock spires rose as high as 2,000 feet above the river. Overhead, large turkey vultures in search of carrion soared on the thermal air currents, adding an eeriness to the otherworldly atmosphere. At one of the overlooks, the forest rangers had put up a bulletin board with a sign at the top asking, “What does ‘Wilderness’ mean to you?” Little slips of blank paper, a pen, and thumbtacks encouraged visitors to jot down some notes and post them. “Wild & Free,” one person had written. “Wilderness speaks to my soul,” another responded. “Quiet humility,” “Hope,” and “Reminds me just how small I am,” penned a few more. Standing at the edge of the earth, as the Black Canyon of the Gunnison does, inspires introspective thoughts and wonder. The Painted Wall Overlook placed us in front of an immense canvas of rock that looked much like a modern work of art painted with odd stripes and patterns. At the aptly named Chasm View Lookout, we peered over the edge into the depths of the canyon. Driving down East Portal Road brought us to a totally different world at the bottom of the canyon where the peaceful Gunnison River flows between green, tree-lined banks. It is the speed of the Gunnison River’s downhill flow, which drops a whopping 95 feet per mile, that created the Black Canyon, yet as we drove along the banks and stared up at the canyon cliffs
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Stunning views of cliffs with a ribbon of water below at Black Canyon of the Gunnison.
A duck checks out the sunrise at Maroon Bells.
An early snowstorm blankets the fall colors on the Million Dollar Highway.
were in every stage of their autumn transformation on the hillsides that lined Crystal Lake, ranging from soft lime green to lemon yellow to bright orange. In the mornings, before the breeze picked up, the lake dutifully mirrored the hues of the mountainsides in a kaleidoscope of color. It is said that the Million Dollar Highway (US Highway 550), which forms a portion of the San Juan Skyway loop drive, may have gotten its nickname because the mountains’ gold veins are so rich in the area that a million dollars’ worth of gold dust was inadvertently used in its construction. Another theory is that the name came from the exorbitant expense of building the road over these very steep passes. However it got its name, it could easily be said that a drive along the Million Dollar Highway is worth that much or more. The highway traverses three huge mountain passes on the way from Ouray to Durango, and Red Mountain Pass, at more than 11,000 feet, is the highest. Climbing these switchbacks took us from one dizzying overlook to another, and near the top we could see the remains of the Camp Bird Mine tucked against the base of the burnt orange face of Red Mountain. Zooming down the backside of this pass, our exhaust brake fully engaged the whole way, the autumn colors filled our views as we dropped out of heaven’s heights into the tiny village of Silverton.
the waterfall, and we found ourselves breathing heavily when we finally got to the falls themselves. The waterfall is most impressive in the spring when the snowmelt from the mountains makes it flow fast and free, but there was still a pretty spray of water over the rocks, and we enjoyed the feeling of the cool moist air on our skin. Back in town, we stopped in at Mouse’s Chocolates Cafe on Main Street for a latte and a muffin and looked up at a stunning mountain view. We asked our barista where we would find the best fall colors in the area. “Up the Million Dollar Highway,” she told us without hesitation, pointing toward the end of town. “The colors are unbelievable this year.” Just a few moments later we were back in our truck beginning the steep series of 180-degree switchbacks that mark the southern end of town, rising high in the air with every tight turn. The town quickly became a distant world of toy houses far below and then vanished from view all together as the immense Uncompahgre Canyon took its place. This road is not for the faint of heart, and my heart skipped a beat as I saw the bottom of the canyon practically straight below me from just outside the passenger’s side door of our truck. But the views were so magnificent at every turn of the road that we ended up doing this drive over and over during our stay. The golden aspens and other alpine trees
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No matter where you stop, the scenery is photo worthy.
Fall color envelops an RV on the Million Dollar Highway.
Snow comes early in the San Juan mountains.
wooden mining-era buildings around town. On our return to Ouray, driving through autumn’s glory once again, we stopped frequently to take pictures. When snow fell in the mountains a fewdays later, the whole area was transformed into a peaches-and-cream winter wonderland. The Million Dollar Highway can be traversed by big RVs, and semi tractor trailers drive over it all day every day. However, there are sharp turns and very steep grades, so be sure your RV’s engine and brakes, as well as your own nerves, are up to the task. We found that driving it with our truck first before towing our fifth-wheel really helped. The arrival of fall’s sumptuous colors is a feast for the eyes in many parts of the country, but the dramatic landscapes in this special corner of Colorado are among the best and are well worthy of an RV road trip.
The few dirt streets of this town, laid out in a classic grid, are home to just 639 people; however, tourists swell the ranks every day. The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway chugs up the mountain delivering passengers into town after an exhilarating 45-mile ride up from Durango. The train travels only between Durango and Silverton, making a round trip up and down the mountain once to three times a day between May and October. For those who don’t want to tackle any mountain driving, taking a trip on this train into Colorado’s alpine heights is a relaxing way to see the sweeping views. Once a year, over Memorial Day weekend, the Iron Horse Classic bicycle race pits cyclists against the train in a man- versus-machine race up the mountain from Durango to Silverton. And every year, a few cyclists beat the train to the top. This crazy race was first run decades ago by the Mayer brothers when older brother Jim, who was a train brakeman, challenged his brother Tom to jump on his bike as the train passed their house going to Silverton. After we arrived in Silverton, a stop at the Avalanche Brewing Company, where they make their own “elevated ales,” was a must. Brightly painted in primary colors, with a picket fence made of snow skis out front, the inviting front porch of this little eaterie was the ideal spot for lunch. Afterwards, we enjoyed a stroll past the old,
FOR MORE INFORMATION Black Canyon of the Gunnison : nps.gov/blca/index.htm Ouray Colorado : ouraycolorado.com Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad: durangotrain.com
FALL 2015 COAST TO COAST 17
READY FOR TAKE OFF LAUNCH INTO THE KENNEDY SPACE CENTER VISITOR COMPLEX
By Neala Schwartzberg McCarten
It was a gorgeous blue-sky day in Florida as I joined the stream of people heading to the entrance of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex—about an hour east of the glitz of Orlando’s theme parks. Even if there hadn’t been a line to follow, it still would have been easy to find the entrance—just head toward the full-size 184-foot replica of the rockets that powered the space shuttle Atlantis, which rises like a beckoning beacon. Kennedy Space Center (KSC) is both a NASA launch site and the home of the Visitor Complex. The combination provides a hybrid; something that must be one of the world’s only space science theme parks. And it works on both levels—immensely entertaining, along with an inspiring dose of science (or what they call STEM: science, technology, engineering and mathematics). The highlight is the jaw-dropping experience orchestrated around the space shuttle Atlantis exhibit, which made its debut in June 2013. Far more than simply plopping it on a stage, KSC showcased the shuttle in a way that brought tears of pride to the eyes of visitors—many of whom literally burst into applause.
Huge video screens recreated the challenges scientists faced in the development of the space shuttles, followed by actual footage that documented the triumph achieved when Atlantis was successfully launched. And then, huge doors open to reveal the Atlantis, battered by the many missions and miles flown, but still beautiful, hanging in simulated space. Experiencing this hard-won achievement and actually seeing the shuttle was the reason I came, and it did not disappoint. But there was even more—a whole floor of exhibits and simulators that lured adults, teens, and children. Other buildings and sections of the complex offered more to see and experience. Want to walk under the largest rocket ever built? Crowds thronged the Apollo Saturn Five center that showcased the Saturn Five rocket stretching 363 feet, taking up much of the floor of the sprawling building. Visitors can also touch a moon rock, see artifacts and actual space suits from the missions, and visit the Lunar Theater. There’s also plenty of kid-friendly exhibits sophisticated enough to beguile adults. Learn about the crucial role of
Apollo Saturn V Center houses the largest rocket ever made—the mighty Saturn V.
NASA World welcomes visitors into Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
The actual Atlantis space shuttle is revealed at Space Shuttle Atlantis.
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FOR MORE INFORMATION kennedyspacecenter.com
never go hungry or lack for shopping—there are plenty of places to do both. The Disney attractions of Orlando may lie an hour west, but for me, they can’t compare with the lure of real science and real achievement tied up in a bow of fun.
robots in exploration through stories told at Robot Scouts or interact with Angry Birds to learn about physics. The Rocket Garden is the place to find Mercury-Redstone, Atlas, and Titan rockets as well as replicas of Gemini and Apollo capsules suitable for climbing. Time it right and you can take a free guided tour. Timing is also critical for the daily Astronaut Encounter (a 30-minute Q&A) and the Mission Briefing where Space Center experts talk about topics of space exploration. Both are included in admission. Admission includes a narrated bus tour of Kennedy Space Center that takes visitors to the Vehicle Assembly Building where the rockets were once carefully assembled, and actual launch pads, some of which are still being actively used. If you visit when a launch is scheduled, you can purchase a separate ticket to view the launch (although it’s from a vantage point several miles away). There are plenty of other add-ons available at an extra cost. If meeting a real astronaut is on your wish-list, you can make a reservation for Lunch with an Astronaut. While much of the complex has been created just for visitors, the original buildings are still on the grounds. Visitors can explore that history through KSC Up-Close Tours. I spent an entire day there and needed yet another full day. I definitely would make time for the sophisticated simulation of the Shuttle Launch Experience, and the IMAX theater. There are wheelchairs and strollers available for rent and all exhibits and tours are wheelchair accessible. You’ll also
How does an astronaut “go”? This exhibit explains the mechanics on the Space Station.
The Apollo Treasures Gallery includes Apollo 14 Commander Alan Shepard’s spacesuit.
FALL 2015 COAST TO COAST 19
2015 Roadtrek Zion Front-wheel drive design sets this Class B apart from competition
In Louisville this year, at the National RV Show, I saw one of the first Class B offerings on the new Ram ProMaster chassis—the Zion. Now I’ve had a chance to test it and, frankly, this gas-powered, front-wheel drive configuration is (in my opinion) about to re-energize the entry-level van conversion market. This statement has everything to do with the use of the ProMaster. Of course, we’ve seen this technical jump before—with the Mercedes Benz Sprinter. That shift was the first toward European designed vans that are simply superior to what Detroit was offering. A few years have passed and the Sprinter, as it turns out, was just the tip of the iceberg. Today only GM still offers an old-style American- designed van and I suspect it too will be gone soon. Ford now has the Transit, Mercedes-Benz the Sprinter, Nissan the NV, and Ram the ProMaster—which is a repurposed Fiat van with a Chrysler Pentastar V6 engine.
I mentioned the lower end of the Class B market because with the Mercedes-Benz chassis and diesel engines (which are good trucks), typical conversions cost north of $100,000. This Ram ProMaster Zion, on the other hand, has an MSRP of just $86,931. What’s unique about the ProMaster in the van world is its front-wheel drive design, which Ram says gives its new van several best-in-class features. These include fuel economy, cargo capacity, payload, turning radius, interior ceiling height, and lowest step-in height. If you’re a company like Roadtrek that builds on stock vans—this is all good news. Hence the Zion. On my test drive I found that this vehicle drives “small.” The steering, the turning radius, the suspension feedback, and the seating position all contribute to making the van feel smaller than it is—hence a very easy, comfortable drive. So, whether in town, in traffic or congestion, I doubt any owner will ever feel burdened by the size of the Zion.
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What is also at work during the drive is felt (but not seen) and comes from the van’s computer. It offers a stability program that includes wind assist, sway assist, drift compensation, rollover mitigation, and (when towing) a trailer sway control. Lastly, and by this I mean it occurred to me lastly—NVH. Noise, vibration, and harshness is an industry term that auto scribblers like me try to pay attention to. But in the case of the Zion, it was only after my afternoon drive that it occurred to me that the interior had been very quiet; I hadn’t heard any rattles, squeaks, or groans from the interior fixtures (whether on pavement or gravel); and harshness—well, I hadn’t felt any. Up front, the turning radius and steering feel isn’t just a lucky engineering break. No, again, it’s because of the front-wheel-drive design. It puts the weight of the engine, transaxle, and drive components right under the driver’s feet, and the position of that front axle will turn the bus around in a very tight circle. What Roadtrek has built into the space provided by the ProMaster is a combination of efficient and simple. This van has no slides or popups. It is built around a single center-aisle design that includes twin couches (or beds) at the rear. This pass-thru design takes advantage of the large rear cargo doors that can open to 270-degrees, creating easy access for all manner of hobby, sports, and lifestyle accessories. For instance, bikes enter and exit easily from this space. Under the couches on either side is where you’ll find the bulk of the storage space. And, while all can be accessed from inside, its nice and easy to get at things when those doors are open and you’re standing on the ground. While I have used the word “simple” to describe the Zion, that doesnotmean it’smissing anything. Cabinetry is bright, cleanly designed, and has a place for everything, while its list of features covers all the on-road necessities including an under-hood 280-amp, 12V generator. The roof mount A/C unit puts out 11,000 BTU, while the furnace pushes 16,000 BTU. An onboard 3,000 watt inverter will run most everything whether plugged into shore power or not. The two burner range, five cu. ft. refrigerator, microwave, water heater, and 22-inch HD flat screen are all powered by either gas, propane, 12V or 110V in any situation. They switch as needed—in other words, just let the van worry about that. Wherever you stop, all your conveniences are there with you and working. If you don’t want to run the generator, an optional solar charging system will also be available. It will make up to 200 watts. The bathroom in the Zion is surprisingly large for a wet- bath setup. The twin swinging doors can be left open for more elbow room, while the shower curtain directs all the water down to the raised floor pan. However, for pleasant day bathing there is also an outdoor shower hookup. Speaking of pleasant weather, my test unit did not have any screens for the sliding side door or the rear barn doors— but the company tells me that an optional kit is on the way. I would imagine that a feature like this would also be
followed by some sort of tent-type extension. Certainly the 12-foot power awning over the sliding door already lends itself to creating an outside room. So, while the ProMaster body is mostly a Fiat design, powering it is Chrysler’s own 3.6L Pentastar V6 gas engine that puts out 280 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. This engine is on the Ward’s top ten engines’ list and is found in more than half of the Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep lineups. The standard six-speed automatic transmission pushing the power to the wheels was designed for the cargo van and uses unique computer software that lets the transmission respond to road conditions and driver demands. Called the 62TE, this transmission comes standard with a trailer-tow feature that adjusts the shift points automatically when engaged. In conversation with the marketing manager, Jim Rawn, I also discovered that Roadtrek has identified a rising buyer segment in the Class B market—singles. Folks without partners who want to get out on the road are buying Class B’s in greater numbers. You can imagine that for someone travelling alone, the Zion’s simple, worry-free attributes would be attractive.
LENGTH: 20’ 11” WIDTH: 6’ 11” HEIGHT(WITH A/C): 9’ 5” INSIDE HEIGHT: 6’ 2” WHEELBASE: 159” 2015 ROADTREK ZION
GVWR: 9,350 pounds CARGO CAPACITY: 1,250 pounds
FRESH WATER: 36 gallons BLACK WATER: 9.6 gallons GREY WATER: 23.5 gallons TOWING: 5,000 pounds
FALL 2015 COAST TO COAST 21
Delta Shores Resort & Marina Bring your boat and fishing gear
RESORT TYPE Coast Deluxe LOCATION Isleton, California SEASON Year-Round WEBSITE vistaresorts.net
Delta Shores Resort & Marina is so much more than a base camp for all that’s happening in the Sacramento Delta Region. You never have to leave this beautiful resort. Consider all that this Isleton, California, resort has to offer: boat and RV storage, private docks, clubhouse, pool and spa, sports court, and spacious full-hookup sites. But if you want to use it as a home base, you won’t be disappointed with all that’s available in the area. The resort is located on the Mokelumne River in the expansive waterways of the world-famous Sacramento Delta recreation region. This area is a favorite for boating, water- skiing enthusiasts, and anglers. There’s lush scenery on the banks, and otters, beavers, herons and bald eagles also call the area home. To help you better enjoy all the river has to offer, Delta Shores Resort & Marina has put in a new dock system. “We’ve put in 40 or so slips,” says Owner Kraig McLeod. “It’s great for fishing and boating.”
The river also attracts whitewater rafters and kayakers. Check out five notable runs: Fantasy Falls, Devil’s Nose, Tiger Creek Dam, Ponderosa, and
Electra-Middle Bar. Electra Road, just east of Highway 49, is a popular place to run, walk, and enjoy the river. The large granite domes, Calaveras Dome and Hammer Dome, near Salt Springs Reservoir are popular for technical rock climbing. But back on the resort, you can relax at your spacious campsite and enjoy the ambiance, or you can meet old and new friends at one of the resort’s weekly activities. These include live bands, bingo, barbecue, themed weekends, karaoke, fishing contests, family movie nights, special kids’ activities, pot-lucks and casino nights.
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